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Is Gardening Good For You? The Benefits of Gardening For Mind & Body

As gardeners running a gardening blog we are obviously proponents of the benefits that gardening can bring to your life, not just personally, a garden is a platform to teach your children too. When people ask me the question “is gardening good for you?”. I find it hard to fathom why such a question is even asked, because surely the benefits are plain to see? It gets you fresh air, exercise, a sense of pride and a whole wheelbarrow load of other benefits. It’s a question I end up answering with enthusiasm though, because the more people who are educated about what gardening can do for your life the more people will be willing to garden and hopefully create some fantastic pieces of Eden amongst our increasingly urban landscapes. Is gardening good for you? Yep, so let’s take a look at the benefits of gardening!

Gardening Makes You Happier

Here I’m going to refer to an article that prompted me to write this post. It was reported in The Daily Mail that taking up gardening will lift your spirits and gardeners are less likely to “display signs associated with unhappiness and depression”. Gardener’s World Magazine had conducted a poll of 1,500 adults in the UK and found that 80% of those who toil away in their gardens feel satisfied with their lives while only 67% of non-gardeners can say the same thing. I also think it gives us something to tinker with indoors too. I am always planting trays or service the shredder in the garage. It keeps me thoroughly busy on the weekends

Part of this surge in happiness is down to the feeling of having nurtured something, of looking at your garden and taking pride in the fact that it’s something you had a hand in creating, not only that you see clear positive effects, for a start, it attracts more birds. How can that not put a smile on anyone’s face? As someone who works in an office for 5 days a week I jump at the chance to get outside and get my hands dirty, it doesn’t matter if I had a serious job on laying new turf, or simply trimming the hedge. It’s a great feeling to dip your hands into dirt and work at growing something beautiful when you’ve been staring at a screen for the majority of your working life. It’s a way to escape the pressures of modern life, to go back to our natural instincts to work the land and commune with nature. The Internet is a wonderful invention, but there’s something very bleak about looking at beautiful pictures of flowers on a computer screen when you could be out there admiring them for real.

Gardening Improves Your Health

From the health side of happiness there’s some scientific evidence to show that gardening can help with those suffering from depression or stress. Personally I do feel like gardening is the perfect antidote to a stressful week at work, as is taking a long walk in the countryside. From the depression side a Norwegian study from 2009 found that “therapeutic horticulture” helped improve the symptoms of clinically depressed patients, with those patients also still feeling the benefits after a 3-month check-up. Similarly a 2011 study found that gardening for just 30 minutes reduced cortisol levels, which is the hormone produced by stress. Gardening doesn’t have to me just mud and pot plants, you can also get a pressure washer going and clean down the patio. There’s all sorts of ways in which you can improve you ambience.

Aside from mental health gardening is also the perfect way to exercise and get some fresh air. Gardening literally can get your blood pumping; with digging, weeding, planting and other gardening tasks becoming a great way to get some low-impact exercise. If you don’t have the time/money/motivation to go to the gym or go running then gardening is a perfectly acceptable substitute, and there’s also another benefit in that. You can grow plants for free in a years time collecting seeds. There’s nothing stopping you making a budget garden for one months gym membership cost. Rest assured getting your soil into tip top condition is a big deal. If you feel like you still need exercise after it’s because you managed five minutes at most!

When you’re gardening you’re not in the mindset of someone who is exercising, it’s simply a hobby or something you enjoy. Exercise by itself can become very repetitive, making your more likely to give it up, but since gardening is a task with more variety and isn’t primarily about exercise you’re far more likely to keep it up in the long run. There would be no better time to tackle your overgrown garden that when you’re considering the gym. It’s literally killing two birds with one stone.

Finally, there are studies that show that gardeners are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables than those who don’t take to gardening. This is especially the case if you’re growing your own food in the garden, as you’re obviously going to be eventually eating that food. Kids who take part in after-school gardening programs, such as the projects we’re big supporters of here at Garden Tool Box, are also more enthusiastic about trying new foods such as a variety of fruits and vegetables than those who don’t have any gardening experience.